A while ago a friend asked me how many followers I had on Twitter. When I told her, she was surprised and said “but you’re not even famous!”. Now just to set expectation, my followers are currently at a respectable 1,150, so I’m no Taylor Swift, but not too bad for non-famous person.
But what my friend didn’t realise was that it took years to build up to that number. And that it was a conscious effort on my part to blog and tweet on a regular basis about things I thought would be of interest to my fellow internal communicators.
I also went against all my introverted tendencies and attended face-to-face networking events, struck up conversation with people I only knew online and kept in touch with them after.
And it turns out lots of other people were doing the same thing. Before I knew it, I was part of a community of like-minded, supportive, smart and very talented people. People who celebrated each other’s successes, were quick to offer advice and not afraid to ask for it.
Sometimes I think we’ve become so used to the culture in our industry, that we forget it’s not like that everywhere else. People are always sceptical when I tell them that it’s not a drag to go to networking events and conferences, that I genuinely look forward to them as I count many of the people that will be there as friends.
And it’s because of that network, that I built up the courage a few weeks ago to quit my job and set up on my own. Helen Deverell Communications Limited came into existence yesterday and will be open for business on 20 April (you’ll also now find me on @helendeverell on Twitter and my website will be up and running soon).
My plan is to provide my skills and experience to businesses (including project management, writing, comms audits, social media guidance, community management) three days a week and focus on my creative writing ambitions two days a week. Following a challenging period of my life, I felt the time was right to take a risk and, excuse the cliché, follow my dreams.
To say I’m excited is an understatement. But more than that, I’ve been overwhelmed with the enthusiasm, advice and offers of support I’ve received from people that I’ve met through my internal comms network. And I’m ecstatic to reveal that I’ve already secured work with one of them – Rachel Miller of All Things IC.
I wanted to say a huge thank you to my colleagues at Grant Thornton especially Michele, Tom, Paul and Amy, my old colleagues at Sequel Group Nick and Emily for giving up your time to share your knowledge and expertise, and Rachel Miller for your incredible support – I’m very much looking forward to our plans becoming a reality. Also, to all the people I’ve spoken to over the last few weeks who have congratulated me and agreed to catch ups to discuss opportunities, I am extremely grateful.
I believe very few people become successful on their own. Hard work, determination and talent are all key ingredients but surrounding yourself with the right people is invaluable. So, with a little help from my friends, the future is looking very bright.